McMaster University's peak demand for parking is 2,803 vehicles, or 69% of capacity (est. 3963 total) according to their campus capacity study of April 2011.
To create a required 30 metre naturalized buffer zone between the existing parking and Ancaster Creek, McMaster has committed to remove up to 480 parking spaces along the creek edge this spring (2013), which means the total supply drops to 3,483 spots.
Due to campus construction of a new building in place of Wentworth House on main campus, the university requires that Lot O, adjacent to Lot M, be used to place temporary "portables" during construction, meaning another 122 spaces out of commission for now, bringing total parking supply to 3,361. Assuming the same demand of 2,803 vehicles, the lots would function at 83% of capacity: that translates into 558 more spaces than required for the peak hour demand.
Nevertheless, McMaster is planning on re-paving a section at the south western edge of Lot M to create roughly 200 more spaces, bringing peak parking to 78% of parking capacity. This space is contested since a group of professors from Geography, Earth Sciences, Engineering, Biology, and others have a proposal to use this space to create Canada's first on-campus outdoor research facility to engage in research and teaching on wetland recovery and rehabilitation. So for a difference of 5% (i.e. between 78% or 83%) in the short term, we either go with research or with extra parking?
The numbers for parking get even more excessive assuming the Lot O portables are indeed temporary and would go back into circulation as 122 parking spaces in the not too distant future, making 880 extra spaces at peak demand.
The entire west campus area was until 1965 the property of Royal Botanical Gardens and known as the Coldspring Valley Nature Sanctuary, with trails through the varied habitat including the floodplain, now buried beneath the asphalt.
What do you think would be the best use of this former floodplain, paved in the late 1960s and early '70s?